The pool at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre has been at its highest capacity in September as the pools at Esquimalt, Saanich Commonwealth, and Crystal Pool are closed for maintenance. (File photo/Oak Bay Parks and Rec)

The pool at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre has been at its highest capacity in September as the pools at Esquimalt, Saanich Commonwealth, and Crystal Pool are closed for maintenance. (File photo/Oak Bay Parks and Rec)

Swimmers flock to Oak Bay as other pools close for maintenance

Crystal, Commonwealth and Esquimalt undergo annual closure

Patrons using the Oak Bay swimming pool have found it is particularly busy so far in September.

It’s the same as last year.

That’s because three of the nearest pools, Saanich Commonwealth Place, Esquimalt Recreation Centre and Crystal Pool are all closed for their annual, regular maintenance. Commonwealth and Esquimalt are closed from Sept. 2 to 15, reopening Sept. 16, and Crystal Pool is closed from Aug. 30 until Sept. 29, reopening Sept. 30. Oak Bay shut its pool down for annual maintenance for three weeks from June 3 to 23.

Some passes from other recreation pools are good at Oak Bay while their pools are closed for maintenance, such as Esquimalt.

READ MORE: Oak Bay pool reopens with free swimming after surprise closure to fix leak

All in all, it’s meant above-average numbers showing up to Oak Bay so far in September, including length swimmers in search of space in the lap lanes. The spike in users has become an annual occurrence in Oak Bay, with users talking about it on social media including swimmers who may have been unable to access the pool.

Steve Meikle, Oak Bay’s manager of recreation and cultural services, said that with a pool capacity of about 450 people, no one was formally turned away because the pool reached capacity.

“Most people aren’t comfortable with that many people in the pool,” Meikle said.

Users are offered the chance to look at the pool during those peak times and see if they’re comfortable.

“However, with the closures of the other facilities in the region, there are times when the pool is exceptionally busy. People have been making their own choices not to swim due to the volume of people already in the pool.”

Meikle also noted that some people may have been turned away because they showed up for a swim time that they didn’t qualify for.

READ ALSO: Nellie Stock – 40 years of teaching swimming and winning hearts

On Sunday, for example, families can’t use the Oak Bay pool during its reserved times for swim lessons from 9 to 11:30 a.m. (unless they were registered) and for adult lengths swim from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

During swim lessons there are a couple of lap lanes reserved for parents and adults may use these, though it’s not recommended for faster swimmers.

Also, new this month is the Tuesday and Thursday night swimming lessons from 5 to 6:30 p.m., replacing the adult lengths swim from the same time. The adult length swim remains the same, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., the other five nights of the week.

The change was made to accommodate a large waitlist for swim lessons and for parents looking to swim after work when their children are there for lessons. Adults from the public can still use the lanes reserved for laps, but keep in mind it’s busy.

“If you’re a fast swimmer, it’s difficult to do that at that time,” Meikle added.

Designated times for open swims are on Sundays, with a family swim from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by a kids’ fun swim from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. After the adult lengths swim from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the pool opens for an everyone welcome swim until 9:30 p.m.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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